|With Chris before the race. Photo credit to Tarah|
ORAMM was a great weekend. It's fun traveling across the country to races but nothing quite beats seeing so many friends at east coast ones. The highlight of this race for me was getting to catch up with friends and teammates. I drove down to Asheville with Chris and Tarah, who are riding friends from Roanoke. Tarah is a badass horse vet and has very entertaining stories about predicaments that horses end up in. We ate dinner on Sat night before the race at this great restaurant called Avenue M with JBSRT teammates Chris, Jen and Britt (highly recommend this restaurant, beat salads, tofu curries with fresh veggies, very yummy!). For years, everyone has been telling me how fun ORAMM is and how challenging the downhill trails are. ORAMM is always the same weekend as Wilderness Trail 101 in Penn. I have done Wilderness at least 3 times, so I decided to finally check out ORAMM instead. The course was shortened slightly this year due to a road washout, but Blue Ridge Adventures put on an amazing event nonetheless.
|The race start. Photo credit: Tarah|
The race leaves from the small town of Old Fort, NC and after riding out of town, the course climbs up a road to the start of Kitsuma. I felt pretty good on the opening climb. There were 2 closed access gates and a large downed tree on the climb that created 3 bottleneck points, but I fought through and had a good position going into the 1st singletrack. The descent down Kitsuma was so fun. I have ridden that trail once before with some friends from Chapel Hill, but it was in the late fall when all the leaves were down and you couldn't really see what you were rolling over. The conditions on race day couldn't have been better. It had rained early in the week but the last 3 days had been dry and sunny, and the trails were perfectly dry without being too washed out or dusty.
I finished the descent with a few other guys and pushed the pace through the flat roads back thru the town of Old Fort, and then we started the climb up Curtis Creek. I knew the climb would be a long one. I ended up with a rider named Z who had a good pace going. I just focused on staying on his wheel, listening to my music and keeping a smile on my face to make the time go by faster. I kept thinking how awesome it is living in Roanoke and having climbs just like this one to train on. Bring it on climb! The gravel road wound up eventually to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we kept climbing on pavement for probably another 20 mins.
Then there was a short hike-a-bike back into the woods followed by the descent down Heartbreak Ridge. It is a steep, narrow, rocky, rooty trail with a cliff drop off on the left and then tight switchbacks towards the bottom. I just focused on not dying. Definitely wish I had my FS bike for that trail but alas, it was still in Jeff's van somewhere in CO. I did go over my handlebars at one point but luckily did not break anything on my bike or my body except for some top tube paint scratches from the shifters.
|Almost at the finish line. Photo credit: Tarah|
After Heartbreak, there was a gravel road climb back up the entrance of Kitsuma, which I was really looking forward to riding again. The descent down Kitsuma was so fun, I felt like I was flying on the pro cal. After finishing the descent, it was all power on the road back to the finishing line! I finished in 4:21, 1st overall for the women. It was really fun having Tarah at the finish line cheering and taking pictures.
|The bridge was washed out in one of the recent floods so we finished going thru the river. It was fun cheering for finishing racers while soaking in the water|
|Chris coming into the finish. Photo credit: Tarah|
I carried a camel pack and 2 bottles on my bike so I didn't have to stop at any of the aid stations and Huma gels kept me fueled. Afte the race, there was food, beers, a river to cool off in and then the 3 hour drive back to Roanoke. Everyone from Joe's had a great race: Chris Lane got 2nd in the SS, Jen got 1st for master women, and Britt got 3rd overall. Chris had a strong finish and will work on his nutrition plan for next race :-) Definitely will be back next year to tackle the full mileage of ORAMM!
|Women's Open Podium|
|Master Women's Podium|